Meats and vegetables were seasoned with chili. “There is no doubt—notes Gómez de Vidaurre [a Chilean Jesuit, 1737-1818]—that for one not accustomed to it, the first time it will cause great suffering from the burning that one feels in the lips and palate, but becoming accustomed to it after a short time, one looks for the good effects that it provides.” 
Chili continued to be basic to the Chilean diet into the 19th and early 20th centuries, especially among working class families, urban and rural. Claudio Gay (1800-1873), a French botanist and naturalist who visited
The food of the country people is very simple, but in needs to be prepared with pepper capable of invigorating the fibers relaxed by the heat and the water they drink; this pepper is the chili, consumed in great quantity. In general their laziness and indolence cause them to live very badly, eating mostly vegetables and above all potatoes, beans, peas, wheat and corn, sometimes as rice is eaten or in the form of toasted flour, and in rare cases meat, preferring to sell the animals that they raise and never lack. When it is the hacienda owner who feeds them they seem to still be in the Middle Ages for the uniformity of their foods, only a plate of beans in the north and of peas in the south, simply cooked in water with a little grease or cracklings. This is the year-round diet that they prefer and request, imagining that it makes them strong and fit for their work, which the results seem to confirm. 
The basis of [the diet], generally composed of vegetables such as beans, potatoes and wheat, is healthy and nutritious, but its preparation makes it dangerous. To its irregular cooking are added innumerable irritating condiments, such as chili, pepper, and grease which make it difficult to digest. …the abundance of condiments such as the one they call “color,” which is a mix of ordinary grease and chili or paprika, that they use without measure, distorts the goodness of their frugivorous [sic] diet, and makes the carnivorous more defective.But change was afoot.
From the last third of the 19th century until the first three decades of the 20th,
Latin Americaexperienced a period of unprecedented economic growth sustained by exports of raw materials and foods. Among the relevant processes during these years was the growth of cities (mainly the capitals); centers radiating “progress,” “civilization” and “decency.” There the elites’ cultural gaze was fixed firmly on the other side of the Atlantic, from which they took models of behavior and consumption that dominated in the most prominent social circles. “The upper class adopted English and French turns and rejected the comme ci, comme ça people, desiring to maintain their touch with the snobs [siúticos].”
made itself felt permanently in masculine styles, in the sporting life, in the modest and elegant etiquette and the rules of a refined urbanity which brought a distinguished tone to the existence of the elites. …In gastronomy, we owe them ….the habit of tea that gained popular favor, pushing aside the Creole mate of the isolated agricultural regions. …and the breakfast of “Quaker” [oatmeal] …and cocoa, which gained acceptance among children and the elderly.
What occurred in
at the end of the 19th century was a reflection of the existing social abyss. While some anchored themselves to European culinary traditions, eager to differentiate themselves from the “loutish masses” [rotosa plebe], others had to figure out how to subsist with what fell into their hands, combining indigenous and Spanish tastes. Never the less, the two identities forged on these bases had something important in common: delight in the pleasures of the table [la buena mesa] and the exaltation of food; sophisticated and exotic for some, scarce but always appetizing for others. Chile
To a thoroughly normal and unperverted taste, irritating condiments of all sorts are very obnoxious. It is true that Nature accommodates herself to their use with food to such a degree that they may be employed for years without apparently producing very grave results; but this very condition is a source of injury, since it is nothing more nor less than the going to sleep of the sentinels which nature has posted at the portal of the body, for the purpose of giving warning of danger. The nerves of sensibility have become benumbed to such a degree that they no longer offer remonstrance against irritating substances, and allow the enemy to enter into the citadel of life. …The use of condiments is unquestionably a strong auxiliary to the formation of a habit of using intoxicating drinks. Persons addicted to the use of intoxicating liquors are, as a rule, fond of stimulating and highly seasoned foods; and although the converse is not always true, yet it is apparent to every thoughtful person, that the use of a diet composed of highly seasoned and irritating food, institutes the conditions necessary for the acquirement of a taste for intoxicating liquors. 
Chilean cuisine today and tomorrow.